On a roll after three consecutive victories, a resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad start as overwhelming favourites against struggling Rising Pune Supergiants in Tuesday’s Indian Premier League match in Hyderabad.
After losing two games in a row, Sunrisers turned their fortunes around by posting comprehensive victories over Mumbai Indians (by 7 wickets), Gujarat Lions (by 10 wickets) and Kings XI Punjab (by 5 wickets).
The Hyderabad outfit occupies the fourth spot in the eight-team standings, with six points from five games. In Nehra’s absence, seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has led Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling department well and is currently the second-highest wicket-taker with eight scalps from five games.
But it is young Bangladesh left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman who is the most impressive.
Mustafizur, in fact, is fourth on the wicket-takers list with seven scalps, but it is his miserly economy rate of 5.75 per over that has impressed all and sundry.
On the contrary, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Supergiants are languishing at seventh, with just two points from five encounters.
Despite injuries to its key players, including Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Kane Williamson, the Hyderabad side is a high, the team clicking collectively in the last three games.
Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner is in great form and presently the second-highest run-scorer, with 294 runs from five games, which includes four half centuries.
The swashbuckling Australian batsman is just behind Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli, who leads the chart with 367 runs from five games.
But for Sunrisers Hyderabad the big relief is the return to form opener Shikhar Dhawan after a poor showing in the first three matches this season. Despite the absence of the seasoned Nehra, the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers have made an impact and made it difficult for the opposition.
New outfit Supergiants, on the other hand, are struggling to find the right team combination, a fact head coach Stephen Fleming duly accepted.
After the victory over Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener, the Supergiants suffered four consecutive defeats — against Gujarat Lions (by 7 wickets), Kings XI Punjab (by 6 wickets), Royal Challengers Bangalore (by 13 runs) and Kolkata Knight Riders (by 2 wickets on Sunday night).
And come Tuesday, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be eager to break the sequence of reverses and get Supergiants’ campaign back on track.
Having moved to Pune this year from the banned Chennai Super Kings, where he enjoyed great success, Dhoni will be keen to replicate that in his new jersey with a bit of help from his team-mates.
So far, it hasn’t been a smooth campaign for India’s twin World Cup-winning captain, barring the tournament opener against defending champions against Mumbai Indians.
For a team comprising Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis, Ajinkya Rahane, Thissara Perera besides Dhoni, such results are surprising.